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Issue 366 - October 2002

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Chairman's Column

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I am trying to draft some of my contributions for this Newsletter (but not very successfully, I'm afraid) in between serving customers, answering enquiries about the waterways, and making seemingly endless cups of coffee for Peter Oates, whilst working on the IWA stand at this year's Southampton Boat Show.

Welcome Back to Day Star Theatre

We are delighted to welcome back our friends Pete (Duffy) and Jane Marshall who are, of course, 'Day-Star Theatre', for their annual visit to the Society. Their production this year is 'The Moon on the water', a synopsis of which is published this Newsletter.

Peter Lewis

Many congratulations to Peter Lewis. He has recently been advised that he has been awarded a 1st Class Masters (Hons) degree in Chemistry from the University of Bristol, where he has been studying since 1998. This is a fantastic achievement under normal circumstances, but when you consider all that Peter has gone through since Easter, this really is remarkable, but well deserved.

Peter now goes on to the University of Southampton for his Ph.D in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. His subject will be (wait for it....) "Photoelectron Spectroscopy and Ab Initio Molecular Electronic Structure Calculations of Reactive Intermediates of Atmospheric Importance" (I hope you can understand that - I think Peter made it all up!!!)

Society Members' Activities

Society members have been very active at a number of events in recent weeks. Some have been to the House of Lords; others worked at the Southampton Boat Show; still others attended the 2002 Cutweb Boat Club Rally; and by far the largest number took part in the visit to Crofton Pumping Engines last Sunday. All these events are covered in more detail within this Newsletter.

New Events etc

At its last meeting your Committee discussed the programme for 2003 and initial plans for 2004!!! We are considering the possibility of organising further special events and one suggestion is for a boat trip next year. If you have any other ideas, please let me know. In the meantime, following the talk given to us on the Mid Hants Railway a few months ago, some members are interested in joining one of the steam hauled Dining Specials, this winter. If you are interested in this idea please let me know soonest and I will make enquiries.

Nick Grazebrook

On 20 August the inland waterways and the IWA lost one of its leading supporters with the death of Nick Grazebrook, at the age of 64. Tragically, Nick died whilst boating following a fall from lock gates at Stoke Prior on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. The Society's condolences have been sent to his wife Jane and family c/o the IWA. Obituaries to Nick have appeared in the waterways press and an item is also included in this Newsletter.

Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz

I know that this annual event might appear to be months away but the shops are already displaying their Christmas stock and the planning of the quiz is well under way. This year the quiz is being organised by last year's winners, the IWA Solent & Arun Branch, but we are hosting it at Chilworth and will be organising the usual American Supper. It is now time to seek volunteers for the Southampton Canal Society team so, for all those interested in becoming involved, please let me have your names as soon as possible.

Membership Details

In a previous Newsletter it was mentioned that it is necessary to update our membership records, to include such additional information as telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, where appropriate. A form for this purpose will be sent to all members shortly.

2003 National Festival

Chatting to some boating members of the Society it is apparent that a number are intending to take their boats to the 2003 IWA National Waterways Festival and Inland Boat Show which is to be held at Beale Park, Pangbourne from 22nd to 25th August. It is likely that quite a few boat-owning Society members will wish to attend now that the event has come back down south. If you intending to take your boat to this important event, perhaps you could let me know as we can use the information as a basis for a future article.

New 'Waterways Minister'

In recent changes at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Alun Michael JP MP becomes Minister for Rural Affairs and Urban Quality of Life. He takes over responsibility for inland waterways from Lord Whitty.

Membership Drive

One of the targets I set myself during my term of office was to increase the Society's membership. I am already in contact with a number of potential members who live in Southampton/South Hampshire and I am hopeful that some of those might join us. I know that there are a number of boat owners who live in our area who are not currently members so, if you have contact with any of these, or of course other people who you think might like to come along to one of our meetings, please have a word with them, or give me their details.

New Sweat-shirts and Polo Shirts

This is the 'last call' for orders for the new Society sweat-shirts and polo shirts, so please contact me (details on the back page of this Newsletter) with your requirements.

Paul Herbert


THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER

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Those who expected to find a report of last month's meeting on this page will be disappointed. "Due to lack of space, the write-up on our September meeting has been held over to the November Newsletter." (Well, actually, Paul hasn't written it yet.)

I also have an apology. A member gave me a copy of the article from the Sun newspaper but I must confess that I've forgotten who it was. Anyway, thanks to all who have send in material recently. Space is a bit tight but I've squeezed in what I can.


CUTWEB BOAT RALLY

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One several contributions not to come from the "pens" of Messrs Oates and Herbert this month, Angela Faull has sent in this article. Many thanks Angela.

Over the weekend of 20th/22nd September, 9 members of the Southampton Canal Society attended the Cutweb Boat Rally in their boats, namely nb Remus, with Eric, Sue and Peter Lewis on board, nb Marianne with Malcolm and Barbara Hartas, nb Evelyn Broadbent with Chairman Paul and his wife Gill Herbert, and Nb Laura with Angela and Michael Faull. This took place on land at Holt Farm just be.low the Old Engine Arm at the top of the Napton Flight of 7 locks.

Cutweb is an internet based boat club, where every.thing is done via the web, even the AGM! It provides a network of like-minded people with a newsgroup to share useful information and waterway updates, and is also affiliated to AWCC. Last year they had their first rally and it was so successful it has now been agreed to hold it annually.

Cutweb logo

The crews of Remus and Laura were able to get there for the start of the proceedings on Friday evening, which consisted of registration and an informal get together. We were all given a pack, which included a plaque if you had paid for one, an introductory letter with the weekends itinerary, the name of a local vet and doctor, some advice on Weil's Disease, and the duty roster of First Aiders etc. for the weekend. Then everyone sat around meeting people, having a drink and generally enjoying themselves. Each person takes his or her own liquid refreshment, which saves the need for a bar, as this is very expensive and also requires staff to man it.

The following morning Evelyn Broadbent arrived, followed by Marianne a little later. Angela and Michael meanwhile, were being entertained on Remus with coffee and some very nice biscuits called Boasters, which Peter read as Boaters so of course that is what we all now call them. Later in the morning more coffee was served by Gill, and we all sat out in the sunshine, being joined by several other attendees. Lots of chatting ensued, and this was followed by a glass of wine or beer depending on your preference. Gill again came up trumps with some sausage rolls and nibbles, the world was put to rights and a jolly good time was had by all.

Later it was time to go up to the Barbecue, each taking their own food with the barbecues being provided and lit. More chat and another glass of wine! (What a way to spend the weekend.) Time for a little rest and then up to the marquee for the evening's entertainment, which was a folk group called, Meet On The Ledge. They were really excellent with a wide range of music and some audience participation which was great if you could keep up! (I'm saying no more!!) The evening ended about 11.30pm.

Sunday morning there was an auction with everyone bringing their lots to be either sold or donated, it was not the most orthodox of auctions, but a good deal of fun was had by all. It was now time for Paul, Gill, Malcolm and Barbara to depart as some of them had to get back for work on Monday. Nb Laura played host to the Lewis family for afternoon tea (no posh biscuits on this boat!), Simon and Jeanette from nb Clara, who moor at Napton Marina, also joined us.

After our evening meal we all enjoyed a glass of wine before going up to the marquee for the quiz. Well, I would like to be able to say that as your representatives of SCS we did you proud, but I am afraid I can't, we came sixth out of eight teams, in our defence the questions were very hard. (That's our story and we are sticking to it.) There were two raffles over the weekend, some of us won and some of us didn't, and I am saying no more (not that I am bitter!). Following the quiz we were entertained by Bruce Peckett on his guitar which was great fun, but it had now started to get very cold so we all made our way back to the boats about 10.30pm.

On Monday morning the Lewis family again entertained the Faulls, with coffee and posh biscuits, before it was time for us to go our separate ways, nb Laura back to her mooring, and nb Remus off on a little cruise down the southern Oxford. It was a fantastic weekend, a lot of fun was had, a little alcohol consumed, and just over £430.00 made for Leukaemia Research, which is the charity of the farmer, Neil, who let us use his land. We will all go back next year and can thoroughly recommend it to any of you. The website address for Cutweb should you wish to check it out is: www.cutweb.org.uk Happy Surfing.

Angela Faull. nb Laura


The Moon on the Water

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Day-Star logo

Dave & Doreen are farmers. They have a dairy herd, a flock of wandering sheep and two grown up sons who live abroad.

Isobel is a single woman who lives alone in a small cottage by the canal. She looks at the moon and the stars when the night sky is clear and wishes she was up there. She also keeps moonshine in a bottle!

Simon is a drifter on the water. A free spirit with a narrow boat, a guitar and a vague memory of the sixties. He writes songs and, up until now, has avoided commitment whenever he can.

They are all 53 years old and all had fine ambitions when they were 19. They were all 19 in the summer of 1969 when man first stepped on the moon and half a million young people went to the Woodstock music and arts festival in New York State.

During the course of one day and night around the sleepy canal side village of Sandy Edge in the heart of 'Middle England' their lives converge in a confusion of guilt, disillusionment and unfulfilled dreams...... and a scary iron aqueduct.

This is the second story set in the small village of Sandy Edge where the pub never shuts and the ducks turn out to be sheep....... but it is not a sequel.


Southampton Canal Society at The Boat Show

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September this year saw the 34th Southampton Boat Show held at Mayflower Park. Whilst this event is predominantly for sea water boaters, the Inland Waterways Association has had a stand at each show since Year 2. The Southampton Boat Show is important for the IWA, not only for the sales that can be made but also for flying the 'canals flag'. For seven or eight years (he cannot remember just how many) our Secretary and Newsletter Editor, Peter Oates, has been responsible for running the stand. Not an easy task. One of Peter's duties is to round up a volunteer band of helpers to assist him in staffing the stand and many of these come back year after year.

Photo of IWA stand at Boat Show

Laura Sturrock and Ray Brooks on duty

Many Southampton Canal Society members are willingly roped in to assist Peter (and Ray Carter from IWA HQ) to erect the stand before the Show; staff it over the ten day period that it is open to the public, and then dismantle it on the last evening.

The most demanding task, in my view, is the actual setting up and dismantling of the stand. This year the former took five of us nearly all day to complete, though the breaking down is a lot quicker at around two hours.

The actual attendance duties on the stand are far less onerous and quite enjoyable. Apart from selling waterways books, maps and other items, there are numerous enquiries from people thinking of taking holidays or moving more permanently onto the canals in England and abroad.

So, if you are interested in helping out on the stand next year, just have a word with Peter.

Paul Herbert


Nick Grazebrook

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We are deeply saddened to record the death of Nick Grazebrook, one of the Inland Waterways Association's leading supporters for over thirty-five years. He was chairman of IWA's West Midlands Region, probably one of the wisest members ever to serve on Council, and a founder committee member of many waterways organisations throughout the West Midlands.

Nick qualified as a solicitor in 1964 after National Service. He specialised in trusts, wills, probate and capital tax planning. He bought a house adjacent to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in 1964 and from that rapidly developed an interest in inland waterways. He joined IWA a few years later and bought his first boat in 1970.

As a solicitor he helped to form a number of waterway-related trusts and societies (notably Droitwich Canals Trust and Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust), and developed an interest in administrative law so far as it related to waterways. He reluctantly became involved in waterway litigation - suing British Waterways for not opening Netherton Tunnel, and contesting BW's right to charge for 'end-of-garden' moorings.

Nick served on the committee of IWA's Birmingham Branch and its predecessors for about thirty-five years and was elected chairman of West Midlands Region in 1999. Throughout Nick's long membership of the Association, he freely gave of his legal expertise in an informal manner. Sometimes this led to business for his firm, when more formal assistance was needed, but Nick was always scrupulous to ensure proper conduct.

Perhaps above all else, Nick Grazebrook will be remembered for an incisive mind that challenged bureaucracy and championed the small waterway user. He undoubtedly kept the legal department of British Waterways on its toes. He leaves a legacy of regeneration and renewal along the West Midlands waterways and our freedom to enjoy them.

(Reprinted from the IWA Head Office Bulletin - Issue No.68 - September 2002)


Southampton Canal Society at The House of Lords

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This title is a bit cheeky and perhaps misleading, but four members of the Society did attend a reception at the House of Lords on 13 September 2002, albeit not as representatives of the Society.

As members will recall, the Society has very strong links with the London Narrow Boat Project (LNBP), which currently operates two narrow boats from Braunston, which are used by Calmore Junior School as part of its annual 'Adventure Afloat' fleet. This year is the 21st Anniversary of the LNBP and they have two new boats currently under construction at Braunston. Over the years the Project, which is run entirely by volunteers, has grown in strength and stature. This has enabled LNBP to provide a holiday adventure for young people from all walks of life, many of whom are from deprived backgrounds, some partially handicapped or disabled, to enjoy the opportunity of experiencing the waterways.

As part of its Anniversary celebrations, LNBP arranged a 'Thank You' reception at the House of Lords, hosted by one of its Patrons, The Lord Moynihan (the former Sports Minister). The Project invited representatives from many of the organisations who have helped to fund the project, together with major users (such as Calmore Junior School).

The Southampton Canal Society delegation (who were not, of course, wearing that particular hat on this occasion) were Ray Brooks, who is a LNBP Committee member and cover skipper; Eric Lewis; Gill and myself.

We entered the Palace of Westminster via Black Rod's Garden Entrance. Security at the Palace is always high but was particularly so on this occasion, the date being so near to the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11th. I still find it rather disconcerting to see some of our British Police carrying fire arms though we are gradually getting used to this at airports in the UK, when there is a particularly security scare.

The evening started with a guided tour 'Along The Line of Route', connecting the two Houses, and then the House of Lords followed by the House of Commons. We then attended the reception which was held in the Cholmondley Room, adjacent to the House of Lords terrace, with its red and white striped canopy, overlooking the Thames. It was a beautiful evening and many of us enjoyed congregating on the terrace and looking at the sights, including the nearby London Eye. We were surprised by the high volume of traffic on the river; whilst the majority were trip boats, there were occasional private cruisers and launches and even some commercial traffic. It was a very enjoyable evening.

I have invited representatives of the London Narrow Boat Project and the Community Boats Association to come to Chilworth to give us a talk sometime next year.

Paul Herbert


Society Visit to Crofton

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A party of nearly 30 members and their guests took part in the Society's visit to the Crofton Pumping Station on the Kennet & Avon Canal on Sunday 29 September. It was a glorious day with superb weather, which would have been good at any time of the year, but particularly so at the end of September. We all made our own way to Crofton (Ron and Myra even came by boat) where some had a picnic lunch or used the on-site Tea Room, whilst others enjoyed lunch at 'The Swan Inn' in nearby Wilton. Some of the party walked around Wilton Water or along the Crofton flight of locks watching the passage of boats.

Volunteers Ray and Brian gave us a preliminary introduction to the Crofton Pumping Station and its history etc before we all made our way into the building to see the two steam beam engines (the 1812 Boulton & Watt and the 1845 Harveys of Hayle) at work. There were numerous white boiler-suited volunteers around the building to explain how it all worked and to actually run these complex machines. I think we were all fascinated, not only by the beam engines, but also by the other steam engines hissing away and the various other artefacts and notices etc.

Photo of SCS Members at Crofton

Society members enjoying their trip to Crofton

Picture: Michael Faull

After a visit to the shop/café and some light refreshment it was time for the group photograph, and that could be another story in itself......!

It was an excellent day out which seemed to be enjoyed by all and I was delighted at such a large turn-out. Apart from our own party Crofton was very busy that day and I think that this was partly due to the fact that this steaming day was the end of the site's 2002 season and also that the Indian Summer had enticed people to get out into the countryside.

Many thanks to the Warden at Crofton, Reg Paynter, and to volunteers Ray and Brian for helping to make our visit so enjoyable.

A post-script to the visit - Gill and I bought a little book entitled 'Crofton in the Twenties' written by Ethel Giles in 1978. Ethel's father worked for the Great Western Railway as a locomotive fireman but was later transferred to Crofton Pumping Station where he tended the engines for thirty years. The family lived in one of the two cottages on site and this book gives a fascinating insight into the social history of the period.

Paul Herbert


Claydon Middle Lock - A Lock Too Far

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August Bank holiday weekend Ann and I decided to take three of our grandchildren for a few day's cruising on the South Oxford canal. We thought we might head for Banbury, turn around, and then come back to Napton.

We arrived at our mooring at Napton and loaded up the boat. I then went to check the engine and to my horror found that the engine oil had siphoned out of the engine and that the engine battery was also nearly flat!! This surely was a bad omen.

After an hour the problem was solved and we were up and running and on our way. The following day, August Bank Holiday Monday saw us heading towards the Claydon flight of five locks. On arriving at the top lock we found that there were two boats waiting to go down. We duly followed them when our turn came. On arrival at the middle lock the boat in front was just locking through, no problem. As there was a boat coming up I waited at the bottom gates ready to close them when the boat was in the lock.

Under the bridge and into the lock came this very old boat, all 70ft of her with her skipper, a very nice young man. He bought the boat in nice a slowly until he was about halfway in, then he stopped, stuck hard and fast!! The two of us then tried to pull the boat out with the engine at full astern, but not a movement. We then tried opening the top paddles, as well as the rope and engine, but again nothing. This boat was well and truly jammed.

By this time, other boats and their crews were arriving and quite a crowd had gathered. There were many suggestions as to how to move the boat. The skipper in the meantime had phoned BW for assistance, they came back to say that a man would be there in forty minutes. The queue both sides of the lock had grown considerably. Several more attempts were made to move the boat, but she just would not move.

The man from BW arrived and under his direction, two ropes were taken from the bow with at least ten people on each rope, the boat in the pound behind attached a rope, then the paddles were lifted and lowered in quick succession to create a wave effect. With the twenty on the ropes and two boats going full astern. Nothing!! Next a tractor from the Bygones Museum was summoned. A rope was secured around the stern bollards of the boat and attached to the tractor. The tractor took the strain and CRACK!!! One of the bollards from the boat snapped off. Not a happy skipper.

More discussions on what to do next. The BW man had to go up to the top locks to let down more water, as the pound was by this time quite low. By now several were contemplating spending the night here, as no progress seemed to be made. Four hours had by now passed, so it was decided the one more try would be made.

Another rope was obtained. So with two people on the paddles, raising and lowering in quick succession, three ropes attached to the bow with at least thirty people on them, the tractor and the boat behind both with ropes attached to the stern. With everybody holding their breath, the two paddles were raised, the strain taken up on the ropes, the tractor and the other boat. With a surge of water the bow lifted up and at last the old girl was free. It was then a very embarrassed boat owner had to back his boat stern first through two locks and down to the winding hole, before he could turn around and go back the way he came. We never did get to Banbury!!

Terry & Ann Phippard - nb Dolly
30th August 2002


Gun attack for 'speeding'

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A cruiser skipper was shot in a canal rage attack - because he was "speeding" at 2mph. John Wootton was hit in the leg by an airgun pellet fired from another craft.

Marksman Chris Sale, 47, went overboard when the cruiser passed his narrowboat home, a court heard. He thought holiday-maker Mr Wootton and his family were going too fast - and hurled abuse while gesticulating wildly.

Then he picked up the air rifle and let fly on the Trent and Mersey Canal near Stafford.

Prosecutor Vivienne Starkie told local JPs: "Mr Wootton ignored the abuse and increased speed once he was past the three moored narrowboats. He felt what he thought was a slap on the thigh. He had been shot with an air rifle."

Mr Wootton, from Berkshire, was with his wife and three sons, aged between eight and 14. He told police he was doing one to two mph. Sale, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, told cops he fired in the "general direction" of the cruiser.

Richard Scholes, defending, said: "The cruiser was travelling faster than 2mph. It caused Sale's boat to rock violently. He decided to warn Mr Wootton his behaviour was unacceptable. He accepts it was foolish."

Sale admitted common assault and was given a 12-month community rehabilitation order. He must pay £75 to Mr Wootton, who was bruised.

Reprinted from THE SUN, Monday September 9, 2002


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